Archives for category: RomCom

I don’t even know if this is qualified as a Guilty Pleasure, given that it was nominated for 13 Oscar and won a whooping 7 of them, including Best Picture.

The ridiculously great thing is that this movie is so overdone and pompous, like a musical without songs. It is the prose and poetry that is the music, representing or mirroring the feelings of the characters around it.

And I love it!

Shakespeare in Love with all its amazing characters :D

Shakespeare in Love with all its amazing characters 😀

***SPOLIERS*** (you don’t watch this for the story, you already know the story of Romeo and Juliet)

 

What is this movie?

“Shakespeare in Love” (1998) was the big sweepstakes movie of the 71st Academy Awards, beating war movie “Saving Private Ryan“, who only received five awards.

This is an epic, and (notably) fictional, account of William Shakespeare and the forbidden love that inspired and fuelled his most famous work “Romeo and Juliet”.

Will is played by the dashing Joseph Fiennes (no, not Ralph Fiennes, but his brother) and his love interest is found in the form of Gwyneth Paltrow as Viola (the Iron Man woman). She actually won a “Best Actress” Oscar for this portrayal.

 

Why is this movie any good?

This is the case of a solid, although a bit sappy, script getting the correct treatment (it doesn’t take itself too seriously) and a perfect cast.

The story feels real, incorporating famous contemporaries of Shakespeare, like Christopher Marlowe and Webster. There is a danger is representing fictional history this well because that some people, those who don’t Google quickly to figure it out the opposite, will believe it to be true.

But given that we don’t know too many solid facts about William Shakespeare, there is even a theory that he was not one but several writers, I am inclined to choose to believe that the story in this movie could have been true. Maybe.

Because I want it to be true.

And that makes it a good movie.

 

Why do I like this movie?

The movie wallows in its own self-importance, much like many of its characters who wallow in their own genius. It also talks about love in a very old-fashioned, poetic and idealised way. And by doing all of this in an exaggerated fashion, it makes fun of idealised, fictional love while coupling it with a sad, romantic ending.

It is this serious fun, the silly/real characters and the perfect balance between prose and facts, fiction and reality that makes this film strike a chord with me.

It is one of those rare movies that actually has a thoroughly strong female lead. Viola makes active choices to try and change her life, and she doesn’t sit by quietly as she is sold like a horse (literally, just listen to the language they use) to Lord Wessex (a man of no poetry in the shape of Colin Firth).

Viola is the one who decides to dress up like a boy and go to the playhouse, knowing fully well that females on stage is strictly forbidden. She defies everyone, but is forced by tradition and circumstance to submit to the wills of her parents and Lord Wessex in the end.

But there stands great respect for daring to do anything at all in such a society.

Anyone who takes this movie historically serious needs to watch it again. This is not about facts, it is about fiction. Revel in it!

 

Why do I watch it over and over again?

I still get a butterfly sensation in my belly at when Shakespeare and Viola have clandestine kisses during rehearsal and a tinkling flutter down my spine as they perform “Romeo and Juliet” for the very first time.

And obviously, any film with an actual strong female lead is worth rewatching at times when the world seems impossible and cruel.

But above all this film belongs to its supporting actors, four of which I will mention here:

 

The Story of Mister Fennyman

The character who charms me the most is Mister Fennyman, or “The Money”. He goes on a lovely journey from hard-eyed moneylender and businessman, to an all out theatre groupie and first-time actor.

I love the scenes and snippets where he is desperately rehearsing the two lines of dialogue he has been given in the play as the Apothecary. And oh how important that role becomes in the play (to him).

A true actor at heart.

 

Ben Affleck’s Best Performance to Date

Mr. Affleck can be faulted for many of his career choices (of which there are too many to mention), but in him there is a great actor, and that great actor blooms in this part as Ned Arreyn, the headline actor at the Rose and leader of the Admiral’s Men.

Ben Affleck’s portrayal as the self-important actor, turned impatient director (since his character, Mercutio, dies early in the play) doubles perfectly will Will Shakespeare’s equally self-important characteristics.

The beautiful thing is that they both know how to deal with each other’s egos, and how to squeeze the best out of their creative minds in tight situations.

It is a testament to how good “Romeo and Juliet” is when Ned Arreyn, instead of nagging Shakespeare about the early death of his character, rather advices him on the title.

Even this ego has been tamed.

Sneaky pic of Ben Affleck as Ned Arreyn

Sneaky pic of Ben Affleck as Ned Arreyn

Mr. Henslowe and his motto

One of the most important lessons of this movie, a lesson that can be applied both to theatre, film production, and probably other creative arts as well, is this:

The natural condition [of the theatre] is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.

– Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush)-

So what is there to do about this? “Nothing”, Mr Henslowe, always says. “Stragely enough it all turns out well in the end.”

“How?”, you may ask, at which point Henslowe will tell you: “I don’t know, it’s a mystery”.

This fact saturates the world of “Shakespeare in Love”, and it’s what makes us accept many of the amazing, miracle fixes during the film.

However, the genius is that this story rule does not apply to the love story between Will and Viola. This enhances the feeling that their love story is real, not in the realm of the theatre and fiction.

 

And of course, Judi Dench as Queen Elisabeth

There are no words to express this performance. A woman in a man’s profession, Viola’s wish embodied. Her snarky remarks and fierce independence needs to be experienced.

 

What mood should you be in?

Although I would name this a comedy, because I laugh a whole lot while I watch it, it does have a fair amount of lovey-dovey scenes, both on- and off-stage where sequences of Shakespeare prose is being read simultaneously. You have to be in the mood for this.

In the mood for love and aged poetry.

But just remember, for every verse of prose, you get to see a fun or interesting back side, either particular for the time period, or a stick in the ribs to the current state of affairs. For example, there are boat men bragging about having had Christopher Marlowe (rival of Shakespeare) as a passenger, a typical trait of contemporary cab drivers.

 

Further Watching

For a modern take on the story of Romeo and Juliet, drag out the tear-jerking “Romeo + Juliet” (1996) by Baz Luhrman. This movie is a genious reinvention of the original play, using the original dialogue, but set in a modern-day Verona, with guns instead of swords and the big, puppy eyes of Leonardo DiCaprio.

Another modern remake of a Shakespeare story (of which there are many) I would recommend is the teen-movie “10 things I hate about you” (1999).

It is American high school movie version of “The Taming of the Shrew with a young Heath Ledger (The Joker), a baby-faced Joseph Gordon-Levitt (not Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception) and a sour-faced Julia Stiles (that woman in the Bourne-trilogy) who really hates everyone.

Want to keep it in the Elizabethan era? Another top contender for “Best Picture” in 1999 was “Elizabeth” (1998) with Cate Blanchett as the queen herself. Judge yourself who does the best queen. Judy Dench won an Oscar for her 6 minutes on screen.

Notably, Joseph Fiennes also plays a man cheating on his wife in “Elizabeth”, this time with the queen herself.

Does anyone know a modern remake of “Hamlet”? I have never managed to get through the old fashioned ones, so I would love some tips on that 😉

 

Follow my blog and get an email when I go to the cinema and check if one of the New Releases is worth a cinema ticket! 😀

 

Judi Dench as the fierce and fabulous Queen Elisabeth I

Judi Dench as the fierce and fabulous Queen Elisabeth I

 

Who am I?

I a freelance writer who likes to watch movies. Sometimes I will even watch some movies again and again and again. Those movies, that you can watch on repeat forever, are some of the best movies. They are Guilty Pleasures.

In these Guilty Pleasure blog posts, I will explore the movies I find myself turning back to again and again for comfort.

I initially thought of Guilty Pleasures as only bad movies that it is embarrassing to admit that you like, but I am broadening my perception to include any movie you watch again and again.

They alight certain emotions in us that we enjoy, for good or bad, and regardless of their production quality, they need to be acknowledge for their power to make us feel. Whether it be because the actors are hot, we don’t have to think to enjoy it, or the story is actually compelling.

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as an 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

In these days of cheap DVDs and Blu-Rays, why not treat yourself to a movie you know you will watch again and again. Don’t be at the mercy of the Internet or streaming services. They can take it away as soon as they put it up.

I have owned “Shakespeare in Love” for years and will continue to drag it out and force my boyfriend to watch it (he always seem to forget that it is actually funny) 😉

Don’t feel like giving them your money? You know what to do 😉

 

If you like what I write, please give me a shout in the comments or sign-up to read my next blog post 😉

Next week, I will go to a random movie at the cinema and tell you whether or not it was worth the cinema ticket. In the mean time, check out last months Guilty Pleasure movie here!

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Americans hated this movie. Europeans got it a little bit more. Will you fall in love with this unloved movie and it’s unlikable characters? Will you get the movie that ironically lost a lot of friends and alienated people?

I did.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People Poster

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People Poster

 

What is this film?

“How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” (2008) is based on a book by the same name, written by Toby Young.

The book is rooted in Toby’s own experiences working in the US, and his reputation is somewhat ugly, even worse than how Simon Pegg portrays Sydney Young in the film.

Toby Young actually did send a strip-o-gram to the office on Bring-Your-Daughter-To-Work-Day when he worked at Vanity Fair magazine, and managed to get shunned by most people in publishing by the end of his employment.

The director, Robert B. Weide, is known for “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, and if you have watched “Curb Your Enthusiasm” you know that this guy should know a thing or two about making an unlikable character relatable and identifiable.

Producers really pulled out the big guns for this one.

 

Who says it is bad?

Americans say it’s bad. Why do I say that? Just check out the box office return on the movie:

Domestic:  $2,778,752    14.5%
+ Foreign:  $16,373,045    85.5%

Worldwide:  $19,151,797  

The production budget was around $28 million, so even though Europeans kind of got the movie, it didn’t even recuperate its losses.

I’m not judging. Most movies never do.

(I know the rest of the world is in there too, but I am presuming that the movie didn’t go much further than a British release and some selected Brit-loving countries (like Norway) due to it’s lack of hold in the US).

It is blatantly obvious to my eyes that Americans simply didn’t get Sydney Young and his predicament. Why, he is an unprofessional, ill-dressed smart arse who constantly eats fatty foods with his mouth open (not even kidding, he does this a lot).

Why in heavens name should they actually like him?

 

Why I say it’s good

The difference between me and the Americans (I love generalising this broadly) is that I actually identified with Sydney Young through all his horrible character flaws listed above. And the fact that I could identify with such a person is why I say it’s damn good.

The likability of Sydney Young’s character is that he offers some sort of integrity. He is not prepared to grovel and snivel at the feet of the shiny celebrities and their hard-ass agents. Don’t get me wrong, he adores actors and says he wants to be a part of their world. Only everything he does gets him further and further away from it.

He is, however, a dying breed, the investigative journalist who doesn’t “take orders from Flaks”.

The scene that wins Sydney Young as a character for me, is when he recognises an old actress at a party where everyone else is ignoring her or simply doesn’t know who she is. This scene confirms to me that Sydney Young is by heart a film lover and connoisseur. Obviously I can relate to that 😉

 

Other good thing apart from Simon Pegg

Another good thing about the movie is that although it gives you a sneak peek into the glamour of celebrity life, it doesn’t make you want to join them, as so many other films do.

The break of that illusion is perhaps something the Americans can’t handle. I for one embrace it.

The humour is decidedly british, a humour which he is constantly criticised for in the film by the lofty and snooty Americans, but which I find funny. I’ve lived in London for three years. I get sarky and ironic humour.

I guess it isn’t hard to understand why the US didn’t warm up to a film where you are supposed to sympathise with the snarky Brit, and the only American who turns out to be decent, is a rather cold and bitchy Kirsten Dunst.

 

Kirsten Dunst – the love interest

Although Kirsten Dunst plays the love-interest Alison with a razor sharp bitchiness, she does have several “Save-The-Cat” moments where she throws Sydney a bone. Underneath the icy cold surface lies a snarky, ironic bitch. And she slowly cracks her way out.

The best moment with Alison is when she goes all fucking mental (relatively speaking) and tells off two stick-thin women in a truly sarky British fashion. This is the perfect moment for Sydney to understand that Alison likes him, the moment when she acts like him.

She does obviously spill it literally right afterwards when she defends Sydney Young outright, but then again subtlety has never been the strong suit of the run of the mill romantic comedy. And especially not this movie.

 

Megan Fox actually has comedic value

Credits go to Megan Fox, who is usually stuffed into some skinny jeans and told to stare with a slightly open mouth to the left of the camera. She does the same in this movie, but with a perfect overstatement that illuminates her intelligence as an actress.

In the part as up-and-coming actress Sophie Maes, Sydney Young’s sex interest for a large part of the film, Megan Fox is literally making fun of her own role in society as the pretty-girl actress who gets far by being beautiful and playing stupid.

Fun fact: She wasn’t even a star yet when this was shot. It was shot before “Transformers”. Which makes the comment on celebrity even more hilarious.

Her role in this film proves to me that there is more to Megan Fox than tits and ass, and I for one would quite like to see if she has any more comedic bones in her.

 

What mood should you be in?

It’s an easy, no fuzz comedy. Perfect for those days when your brain is tired and you just want to think about something else apart from work or life in general. It will divert and entertain you sufficiently without changing your life.

Don’t watch it if you hate Simon Pegg. He doesn’t play the most lovable character in this film, as you might have guessed by now, so you will have to watch something else and fall in love with him first.

 

Further Watching

Anything with Simon Pegg. I would especially recommend his work together with Nick Frost. These are usually british spoof comedies that really hit the mark on commenting and making fun of genre conventions and tropes.

This includes, but is not exclusive to:

They are all hilarious! Watch’em!

If you want a classical reference, have a go at “The Apartment” (1960). The love story between Alison and Sydney, not present in the book, is based on the storyline from this film. This is one of the black-and-white movies I can truly recommend.

Set-up: A guy rents out his apartment to his adulterous bosses to get ahead in his job. But what happens when he falls in love and needs the apartment himself?

 

Now tell me, what is your favourite Guilty Pleasure movie?

 

Next week we will unearth another gem in the Netflix catalogue. Don’t miss out! Sign up!

 

Megan Fox kind of making fun of her own status as a sexy actress

Megan Fox kind of making fun of her own status as a sexy actress.

 

Who am I?

I a freelance writer who likes to watch movies. Sometimes I will even like “the bad movies”, the ones the critiques scoff at and the snooty film students will refuse to watch because it’s all so commercial. Those are some of the best movies. They are guilty pleasures, and they will save you on a rainy day when you just don’t want to think.

In these Guilty Pleasure blog posts, I will explore the movies I find myself turning back to again and again for comfort.

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as an 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

I found this one easily on Netflix.

Don’t feel like giving them your money since they raised the monthly cost? You know what to do 😉

 

If you like what I write, please give me a shout in the comments or sign-up to read my next blog post 😉

Next week, we will again take a dip into the vast array of movies on Netflix and unearth another “Best movie on Netflix“.

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